Sometimes, it seems like the road warrior‘s diet is relegated to the extremes. When a company executive is in town for a meeting – you’re taking your clients out – it’s hefty steaks, heavy cabernets and always more appetizers than a third-world country could consume in a lifetime. When there’s no occasion to shape the meal, on the other hand, you’re looking at suburban Chinese food illuminated by the glow of your dashboard.
It’s tough to strike a balance while you’re traveling … a problem that’s multiplied when you do it all the time. Fast food factors into at least one meal a day, and often, it will be your only meal. Caffeine (and, in my case, nicotine) replaced countless breakfasts, lunches and dinners back in my consulting days. Weight fluctuations were obvious. I’d usually drop 20 pounds in a month and a half when switching from a travel-intensive project to a local one.
Though the pressures of the job and the claims on time can impede proper nutrition, it isn’t impossible to eat well when you live the life of a wandering white collar warrior. You just have to be smart, plan ahead and commit to keeping yourself healthy.
Here are five ways you can avoid the fast food pits and fattening side-effects of client dinners when living the life of a road warrior:1. Choose an extended-stay hotel when possible
Now, what does this have to do with nutrition? Everything! These hotels have small kitchens, and you can stock the fridge with fruits, vegetables and other healthy snacks. When you get back to your room after 14 hours of meetings and deadlines, reach for an apple instead of a snickers bar (or a mini-bottle of bourbon).
2. Don’t always go for the steak
I know this sounds insane, but steakhouses carry other dead animals … not just cows. Would it kill you to opt for the salmon every now and then? While you’re at it, a salad can be savored; it isn’t something you have to endure.
3. Watch what you drink
Hey, I still enjoy a glass of wine or two with a nice dinner. But, you don’t have to kick off the evening with two martinis and close it with a cognac. At some point, switch to club soda or water. You can drink socially without going overboard.
4. Give up fast food
Or, at least cut back on it. When you have to dine and dash, your options do become limited, and not every city has an array of healthy quick-service dining options. When possible, find an alternative to fast food fare. It may take some work, but you should be able to come up with something.
5. Multitask for an extra meal
Breakfast is the first casualty of life on the road. Whether you’re up early to work or you’re trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep, the morning meal soon becomes a fantasy. Make time for breakfast. Bring some work down with you, and turn it into productive time. Hell, take your laptop to the table – it’s not like anyone’s eating with you.
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[photo by Steve Zak]